Mixing business with physio

Mark Cho, BSc PT '92, says his journey in physical therapy was rather unorthodox.

Laurie Wang - 20 May 2014

Mark Cho, BSc PT '92, says his journey in physical therapy was rather unorthodox.

"I wasn't a very good student," he chuckles. "I owe a lot to my fellow students and professors who helped me out quite a bit."

The University of Alberta PT alumnus and High River native is now the President and Chief Operations Officer of pt Health, the third largest chain of physiotherapy clinics in Canada. Cho founded the company in 1995, when he started his first private clinic in Toronto. The company has grown since then to more than 100 physiotherapy and rehabilitation clinics nation-wide.

"I didn't always have an entrepreneurial mindset - I didn't take any business courses at the time. I just kind of fell into it, and found that it was what I enjoyed and I was good at it."

After he was placed at SickKids in Toronto on a clinical placement, he decided to stay in Toronto and build his career there. At the time, interdisciplinary care was a foreign concept and Cho saw the need to integrate physical therapists with assistants, massage therapists, kinesiologists and other health care professionals.

"By unifying all the professions under one common umbrella - wellness - we can provide better and greater care to the patients," Cho explains. "I saw that the PT's greatest tool is his or her mind and ability to diagnose and create a treatment plan. To maximize these tools, PT's need to work with other rehabilitation professionals and be part of a treatment team."

With that model in mind, Cho opened his first clinic and from there, continued to build on that model. He also took on business partners who were fellow PT's.

"If PT's feel that this is their clinic as well, there is incentive to provide better treatment - the best treatment they can give."

Fellow Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine alumnus Paul Moon, BSc PT '01, joined pt Health in 2000 and will be taking on Cho's role as President this year.

"It means a lot to pass the torch to another U of A grad," Cho smiles. "I really do owe a lot to the U of A - my professors, friends and colleagues got me to where I am today. A big shout-out to all of them: thanks for everything!"